Little Poems for Tiny Ears by Lin Oliver

Little Poems for Tiny Ears by Lin Oliver is a new poetry book for the youngest listeners.  This is a collection of twenty-three poems on various baby-approved topics like body parts, noises, first words, playing peekaboo, taking a bath, etc.  Lin Oliver’s verse is mostly simple and sing-song, which is ideal for the target audience.   Some of the poems would make good ones to memorize and recite as mom or dad do that particular thing with baby–there’s one about being buckled into a carseat, for example, that would make a fun action rhyme.  It ends like this:

Buckle, click, I’m safely in–

Haul out, folks, let’s take a spin.

Cute, huh?

Tomie dePaola’s illustrations are easily-recognizable (dare I say iconic?).  This little book would make an excellent baby shower or birthday gift.  My only criticism of it is that, given the target audience, it would hold up much better as a board book.   This one’s lots of fun.  (Penguin, 2014)


I’m sharing a poetry book every Friday this month in honor of National Poetry Month.  I’m also linking this post up at Poetry Friday, hosted this week at Life on the Deckle Edge.

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Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Gone with the Wind is a book I had a love (or at least like)-hate relationship with.  I read it for my IRL book club.    I’m the coordinator and founder of the book club, but I surveyed the participants for their top picks, and Gone with the Wind was one of them.  I read part of it myself as a teenager, but I don’t remember ever finishing it.  This time around, for about the first five hundred pages or so, I didn’t like Scarlett at all–not one little bit–and that made it hard to like the book.    When the first part of the book was over and Scarlett was back at Tara, penniless and with so many others dependent on her, I liked her a microscopic amount.  Well, maybe like is the wrong word.  I understood her a little bit.  My feelings for her didn’t change as the book went on–I never liked her any more, though I could at times see the desperation that drove her ruthlessness.   When I finally, finally read her last declaration of the certainty of tomorrow and her ability to cope with her problems then, I was nothing but happy to be done with the soap opera.

So–I really didn’t like Scarlett or her story too much.  That’s not to say, however, that I didn’t appreciate Margaret Mitchell’s skills of description and characterization.  There are many descriptions in this novel that made me pause and re-read them, they are so good.  This is one of my favorites:

The man who was making his way across the back yard stumped, like Will Benteen, on a wooden leg.  He was a tall, thin old man with a bald head, which shone pinkishly dirty, and a grizzled beard so long he could tuck it in his belt.  He was over sixty, to judge by his hard, seamed face, but there was no sag or age to his body.  He was lank and ungainly but, even with his wooden peg, he moved as swiftly as a snake.

He mounted the steps and came toward her and, even before he spoke, revealing in his tones a twang and a burring of “r’s”  unusual for the lowlands, Scarlett knew that he was mountain born.  For all his dirty, ragged clothes, there was about him, as about most mountaineers, an air of fierce silent pride that permitted no liberties and tolerated no foolishness.  His beard was stained with tobacco juice and a large wad in his jaw made his face look deformed.  His nose was thin and craggy, his eyebrows bushy and twisted into witches’ locks and a lush growth of hair sprang from his ears, giving them the tufted look of a lynx’s ears.  Beneath his brow was one hollow socket from which a scar ran down his cheek, carving a diagonal line through his beard.  The other eye was small, pale and cold, an unwinking and remorseless eye.  There was a heavy pistol openly in his trouser band and from the top of his tattered boot protruded the hilt of a bowie knife.

There are many other such examples, but that’s my favorite.  I also took note of an unusual word usage in this book–Mitchell uses refugee as a verb repeatedly, as in The family refugeed to Macon at the beginning of the siege.  I thought that was interesting, and my very limited research has not revealed any such usage elsewhere.

Would I recommend Gone with the Wind?   Well, yes and no.  It’s an engaging story, but because the main characters aren’t likeable to me, it was hard for me to see reading it as much more than a chore.  Again, though, the characterization is wonderful.  Sensitive readers should be aware of the fact that there is a lot (a whole lot!) of cursing throughout the story, as well as some pointed but not explicit references to marital relations.

Have you read Gone with the Wind?  What did you think about it?



Odds & Ends



  • A very protracted stomach virus has hit our family, with a new person succumbing  every fourth day or so.  That means that the DLM had it last Sunday night, Benny had it Wednesday night, and Louise has it tonight.  I pray that it stops with Louise!
  • We had a busy week, sickness notwithstanding (the bug lasts 6-8 hours at most).
  • Tuesday night my IRL bookclub met, and we had a great time discussing Gone with the Wind.  At the time of the bookclub, I still lacked a few chapters, though the ending was a foregone conclusion as far as I was concerned.  I finally finished reading it on Thursday, I think, and I don’t know when I’ve ever been so glad to finally be through with a book.  Whew!   I hope I can share a few observations I made while reading it, but we’ll see how my time goes this week.
This fellow was hanging out by our mailbox this week

This fellow was hanging out by our mailbox this week

  • We had a fairly good school week.  Am I the only one who forgets what we did after we did it?  Here are the most memorable things from the week:



  • Louise moved out of subtraction and into multiplication this week (though of course we’re still spiraling subtraction, too–).  That was a welcome change of pace.  We’ve played more Sum Rummy games (all three of us) this week than I care to count.  :-)
  • Circle Time happened three times this week, I believe.  The girls have “The Donkey” by G.K. Chesterton nailed.
  • I dug out our Resurrection Eggs this week and tried to get started because it seems like the past few years we’ve had to work hard to catch up.  Can I just say that getting three children to take turns hunting one egg at a time is not easy or fun or conducive to deep spiritual discussions?   :-)



  • Beast Academy keeps us on our mathematical toes!  Steady Eddie helped Lulu through some of the content about squaring numbers, but she still didn’t quite get it.  Finally, she and I worked on it together.  After a frustrating few minutes (which Lulu inevitably has to work through almost every time), she got it!  She was able to explain it to me, more or less, so I knew she really understands.  RS + BA=a winning combination!
  • We finished The Castle of Llyr this week.  I’m not sure what’s next.
  • On Wednesday we had our sharing luncheon at CBS, and it was so neat to hear the ladies’ testimonies of how God has used this ministry in their lives.  After it was over, we went to the art center for a student art exhibit we attend every year.  Then we walked across the street to the park, where two of my four children fell down and one ended up with skinned extremities.  Whew.


  • We had poetry tea time on Friday.  I think the DLM enjoys it more than anyone.  :-)



  • Friday night began our yearly Easter drama at church.  I’m not involved at all this year, which feels weird.  The girls are in the hosanna scene, and Steady Eddie is helping direct traffic and wrangle the children during their down times.






  • On Saturday we had a belated birthday party for Benny.   I baked a yellow cake (from a mix) in a loaf pan and cut it into the number one and decorated it (and cupcakes from the leftover batter)  with homemade butter cream frosting.  I also made a chocolate layer cake with cream cheese filling and homemade chocolate butter cream frosting.  I was pleased with how they turned out.   I’ve always wanted to make a numeral cake, and now I can add this one to my repertoire.
  • I’m looking forward to a few fun activities this week, but mostly that Steady Eddie will be off on Friday. :-)

How was your week?

My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States

Last week I featured a poetry book that spotlights all of the American presidents, and this week I’m sharing another substantial poetry book.  My America:  A Poetry Atlas of the United States is compiled by Lee Bennett Hopkins and illustrated by Stephen Alcorn.  The book is divided into eight sections based on the regions of the U.S.: Northeast States, the Capital, Southeast States, Great Lakes States, Plains States, Mountain States, Southwest States, and Pacific Coast States.   Each section opens with a map and table of facts about each state in the region.  This is followed by six to eight poems for each region (excepting the one poem for D.C. in the Capital section).  Many of the poets whose works appear in this volume are unknown to me, but a few are readily recognizable:  Nikki Giovanni, Langston Hughes, Carl Sandburg, and our old friend, Anonymous.  :-)  Lee Bennett Hopkins (who even has an award named after him) has a couple of poems in here, as do a couple of older children’s poets I recognize.

Of course, my girls immediately looked up Alabama to see if our state is represented by a poem, and indeed it is:  ”Alabama Earth (At Booker Washington’s Grave)” by Langston Hughes.   The fact that we actually visited Booker T. Washington’s gravesite and home a few years ago made this poem doubly meaningful to us.   The final lines of this poem are particularly compelling:

While over Alabama earth

These words are gently spoken:

Serve–and hate will die unborn.

Love–and chains are broken.

My personal favorite is from the Northeast section of the anthology, a poem entitled “Frost’s Farm Road” by James Hayford.   Robert Frost is my favorite poet, so I naturally love that this poem is so reminiscent of Frost’s style, from its beginning–

I pocketed a pebble

From Frost’s farm road at Ripton,

to its end–

In that high circle of his

In or just under the Great World.

Happy sigh.  

Stephen Alcorn’s illustrations are painted using casein on paper with no “preliminary pencil sketches” so as to “surrender to the magic of each poem,” with each illustration “reworked” over time to the lovely, textured illustration reproduced in the book.

This is an altogether lovely book, one that invites slow, thoughtful reading.  It, too, would make a great accompaniment to a history or geography study.  Highly Recommended.  (Simon & Schuster, 2000)


Poetry Friday Button

I’m blogging about poetry every Friday this month, and I’m linking this post up to Poetry Friday, hosted this week by Today’s Little Ditty.

Odds & Ends


We left spring break behind last week and as we entered the new week, I knew it would be a busy one.  Now that we’re on the other side of it, I can say that this is the sort of week I really enjoy, though the level of busy-ness would get exhausting if it were the norm instead of the exception.

  • Monday was a normal day, with the exception that Louise’s art class has now moved to Mondays, so I had to remember that.
  • I made pizza Monday night, which is something I hadn’t done in a while.  I used my bread machine for the dough and followed this recipe.  I divided it into five parts and everyone had his or her own personal pizza.  It was good, but the dough ended up undercooked and doughy under the toppings.  Any ideas on  how to remedy that?
Steady Eddie and I had veggie pizza--sauce, spinach, purple onions, Roma tomatoes, pickled banana peppers, and lots of cheese (including feta on mine).

Steady Eddie and I had veggie pizza–sauce, spinach, purple onions, Roma tomatoes, pickled banana peppers, and lots of cheese (including feta on mine).

  • On Tuesday the girls participated in the 4H County Roundup.    It was a fun day for them.  There were about 150 or so (?) students from all over the county there.  They had lots of stations for the students to visit–water conservation, a mobile dairy (which we’ve seen before), etc.
Louise's art project

Louise’s art project

  • Lulu entered the Chef 4H contest, and Louise entered the Creative Endeavors event as a Cloverbud (which means she didn’t actually compete, but she did get recognized for participating).  The biggest and most welcome surprise of the day was when Lulu placed first in the Chef 4H competition!  She competed against four or five other students in a cooking demonstrations.  She made banana chocolate chip muffins from a recipe we adapted from King Arthur Flour.   I am really proud of Lulu.  Winning at the county level qualifies her for a regional competition this summer.
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  • I am really thankful to God for providing this 4H opportunity for my girls.  I have been wanting them to have a venue for practicing public speaking and making presentations, and this looks like it might be a good one.  I’m excited about the possibilities!
  • On Tuesday night I began feeling a bit under the weather, and by Wednesday morning I wasn’t any better.  Steady Eddie ended up taking the day off so I could rest and recuperate.  We ended up missing CBS, but we had a good, busy day anyway because. . .


  • Someone turned one on Wednesday!  It’s hard to believe, but we welcomed Benny into our family a year ago.   Steady Eddie did school with the girls that morning, and then in the early evening we headed out for a bite of supper and some time at the park.  We came home and Benny had his first official birthday cupcake, which he enjoyed immensely. :-)
  • Thursday was a regular school day, the last one of the week.  All things considered, it was a good week of lessons.  Here’s what we accomplished:
  1. We had two days of Circle Time, plus I added a new
    little activity using word roots cards from The Critical Thinking Company.  I haven’t actually figured out the best way to use these yet.  There’s a book that goes with them, but I wanted it to be more of a fun activity for us to do together than just another worksheet.  Any ideas?
  2. Lulu completed lessons 35-38 in FLL 4 and Louise did lessons 66-67 in FLL 2.  I’m to the point that I skip a lot of the guided part of the lesson for Lulu and let her do the sentence diagramming on her own, and then we go back and talk about it.  Lulu also did three 4-level analyses and we discussed them.  I’m considering Junior Analytical Grammar for Lulu next year.  Have any of you used this?  I think we’re ready to move on to something that requires a little less hand-holding.
  3. Lulu did one day of WWE 4 and I finally, finally decided that it’s time for us to be done with it, once and for all.  It seems so redundant to do the narrations in WWE 4 and then turn around and write paragraph summaries for history.  WWE definitely served its purpose for us, but now we’re ready to go forward without the hand-holding here, too.  Lulu is still plugging along in WWE 2 (she did three days this week), and we’ll continue with WWE 3 next year for her.
  4. Spelling and handwriting?  Yes, they did them.  Spelling is the thing I always run out of time for going over with them.  Arrgh!  That means homework for me before lesson time tomorrow.  ;-)
  5. Lulu did lessons 50-52 in RS E, which introduced hundredths of a square and hundredths of a dollar.  She and I also played a several rousing rounds of Quotient Race from the RS Games book.  (She loved this game!)  Steady Eddie worked with Lulu on some Beast Academy problems, but I’m not sure what they were.  Louise completed lessons 99-101 in RS C.  Lesson 99 was all about mental subtraction with trading,  which I’ve learned is quite the difficult concept to master.  (It helps so much to be on my second trip through early elementary arithmetic!)  Now Louise is embarking on a great voyage into the world of multiplication, and if experience has taught me anything, this will be met with much more delight and enthusiasm than was subtraction.  ;-)   Louise’s game of the week was Money War.
  6. Lulu wrote a history narration about Murad and the Ottoman Empire.  Louise gave me an oral narration.
  7. We had poetry tea time once this week.  I mean, I can’t let an April week pass without it since it’s National Poetry Month, can I?
  8. The DLM enjoyed several preschool activities this week.  He is pulling me, ready or not, into preschool.  I hope to write up a post about some of the things I’m (reluctantly, if truth be told) doing with him.
the alphabet train

the alphabet train


Circus sign

  • On Friday we went to the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus!  Steady Eddie took off work to go with us.  We got great deals on tickets ($11 apiece, y’all) and had a fabulous time.  I think I enjoyed it as much or more than the kids!

clowns and animals

1-IMG_6316 1-IMG_6311 1-IMG_6439

  • On Saturday I gave our new dining room table its first application of stain.   Steady Eddie worked on rearranging the girls’ bedroom again since the loft bed set-up didn’t work out as well as we thought it would.


  • I’m almost finished with Gone with the Wind.  I know.  I can’t believe it myself.  :-)

What’s new in your world?

Books, Reading, and Home Education


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